In what is probably one of the year’s biggest headscratchers, I’ve noticed a number of bloggers writing about the failed 1970s NBC TV series called “Supertrain.”
Haven’t heard of this “Love Boat” on rails? Neither did I, until I stumbled upon a post from sitcom writer Ken Levine. Here’s how he described it:
Television at its worst but cheese at its very best.
This landmark example of how not to create a TV show was also mentioned by prominent blogger Jason Kotke and The Infrastructurist.
I’ve seen the first 10 minutes of the pilot and it’s pretty bad. I broke out laughing during the teaser with the train company’s leader launching the Supertrain concept. It wasn’t the line that the train would be powered by an “atom powered steam turbine machine” that cracked me up. It was the leader’s “reassuring” response to a critic’s charge that the train was a huge gamble that could ruin the company.
“So you think it’s a gamble, do you? Well, gentlemen … Since I can count my remaining years on the fingers of one hand, from my point of view, it’s not much of a gamble at all.”
How is that supposed to be reassuring in any way?
Other than the fact that the pilot is exquisitely cringeworthy (Steve Lawrence gets top billing), I have no idea why it’s still getting mentioned 30 years after the show went off the rails. Perhaps discussions of creating regional high-speed rail networks has sparked some fond memories of bad television. It also might be better than most of NBC’s fall schedule, but I’m hoping not.
Here’s the first 10 minutes of the pilot. The remaining nine segments are on the Infrastructurist blog.
Photo: NBC publicity still originally provided to J. Morrissey and hosted on the NBC Supertrain Web site.